The 60’s

–by Tamara

Hello everyone.
Even though it’s my last article, I still wanted to write about something interesting (to me, at least). This is why I’m going to talk about the 60’s and why I find them fascinating.
What are the first things that pop into your head when you hear about the 1960’s? For me, it’s: hippies — their peace marches, their lifestyle, their music, festivals, etcetera and so forth.
One of the important features of that decade was that it marked the beginning of serious activism regarding the U.S. politics, as well as fighting for peace and human rights — and hippies were one of the main driving forces behind those movements. Their laid-back attitudes and lifestyles led to a drastic decrease in sexism, homophobia and racism.
Of course all of this sounds amazing, but not everything was as bright. The beginning of acceptance and tolerance was only the beginning; there still was a lot of racism and segregation. The Vietnam War was raging on and on until mid 70’s; and even the hippies were problematic. They were not contributing to society, they were druggies and often caused mayhem at their festivals, with all kinds of consequences.
They did leave us with a huge cultural luggage, though.
Not only the above mentioned tolerance started with them, but they also kickstarted many important tendencies that are still becoming more and more popular: eating healthy organic food, a certain style in clothes… and, one of their most important legacies — the music. So many bands and musicians that rose during or are associated with the 60’s and the hippies are considered the classics today.
Some you might now very well; The Eagles, The Animals, Jimi Hendrix… and, of course, The Beatles.

I have only just started my journey through the chunk of history that is the 60’s but I am already absolutely mesmerized by how much it has to tell and how much of its legacy still persists.


My Perspective

–by Hamza


Four weeks ago, a massacre occurred in Paris. Unfortunately three French-Algerian men went into the offices of Charlie Hebdo newspaper and murdered twelve people working there. The reason why the men did so was because the newspaper was satirizing the prophet Mohammed in an offensive caricature. What the three men did was completely inhumane and brutal. I am not supporting the way they reacted to the caricature, but I understand why they were upset.

Nobody wants to see somebody who’s very special to him or her being derided. The media made Charlie Hebdo look like heroes championing freedom of speech, but to me they are not. No one should be killed for any reason. And all should be respectful towards everybody’s beliefs and not be provocative, even though they have the right to be. I mean there are so many other ways to say something you want to in a much kinder manner. People say it’s freedom of expression and freedom of press, and that they’re in France, a country built upon principles of Voltaire who said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

These people are right, and I completely agree with them; but just because one has the right to say anything, it is not wise to do so. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. Why would they want to be offensive and hurtful towards a person by making fun of something that partially defines who he or she is as a spiritual human being? Parents teach their children: “Don’t make fun of people.” Teachers discipline children who draw mean pictures of classmates. We are taught: “Don’t judge (or in this case, make fun of) a person based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation”. So why do adults do these things?

To me, what that newspaper was or is doing is another form of discrimination, and frankly it disgusts me. I’m not saying this because I was raised in a Muslim family. I’m saying this because anything that is prejudicial towards anyone disgusts me. This didn’t affect me in anyway at all because that newspaper is known for trying to offend.   People keep posting #jesuischarlie (#Iamcharlie). Well no, I am most definitely not Charlie as I do not go around with the intention to offend people.

Although the Charlie Hebdo workers did offend tons of people, they did not deserve what happened to them and I hope they’re in a much better place, may they rest in peace. I wish the killers had approached the problem differently in a non-violent way, and didn’t give the media an opportunity to bash about “Muslim Terrorists,” and paint a population of 1.5 billion people with a single brush again. Sadly, what the media does not display is that there are Muslims who are totally against what happened and have risked their lives to save these hostages, such as the cop Ahmed. He defended people that were making fun of his religion, because it’s his duty of course, but also because his religion does not tolerate such acts and strictly instructs people to NOT kill people no matter what.

Christmas and New Year’s Day in Russia

–by Tamara

--by Hamza. This is my (fake) christmas tree at home. My family's not christian, but we like to be in a festive mood at this time of the year. ^_^

–by Hamza.
This is my (fake) christmas tree at home. My family’s not christian, but we like to be in a festive mood at this time of the year. ^_^

As the holiday season approaches, people are already in a rush to buy presents for their loved ones. Christmas and New Year’s Day approach, entitling celebrations, joy and quality family-time.

These holidays are celebrated all over the world, with all kinds of traditions original to different places. Even in countries where Christianity is not the main religion, such as Morocco, Christmas is celebrated just for people to have fun and spend extra time together without the religious background.

Russia is, mostly, Christian — Orthodox, to be precise. Of course not everyone practices Christian religion, so many people do not celebrate Christmas; for instance, my family is Muslim, so we are among those who do not. We still celebrate New Year’s the same way though.

Christmas is not as much of a big holiday in Russia today. It is celebrated on the 7 th of January (Orthodox, remember?) and is purely religious; there is no festive mood like in the western countries; people don’t buy presents. In fact, there are no “traditions” for Christmas today – people spend it how they please; some still do it according to old, historic traditions.

It was a very important holiday before, and it would take up longer than a week. It would all start on the 6th of January – on “Svyatki” – a day that celebrated the dead, with people disguising themselves, most importantly – wearing masks, going around houses singing festive songs and getting food or presents, much like Halloween but without the scary undertone. The Svyatki would last until the 19th of January – “Kryashenie”, the day known as Epiphany. On that day, people would dive into ice-holes, with water in these ice-holes previously consecrated by the clergy. That was believed to cure illnesses and purify from evil. It is actually a pagan tradition; but many pagan traditions were transported into Orthodox Christianity. Believe it or not, while Svyatki are not widespread today, there still are people who dive into ice-holes.

Novy God, which means “New Year” in Russian, is a holiday celebrated by everyone – or by, at least, 90% of the population, – unlike Russian Christmas. It has a long history in my country, but the way it is spent nowadays is not the way people met the newcoming year hundreds of years ago. Actually, Russians would celebrate it in March until 1492, and in September until 1700; and it is only in 1700 that we started to meet the year like everyone – in January.

However, most of the traditions common today were not there until USSR; it is only then that New Year’s became the holiday the Russians know today.

As the Party prohibited celebrating Christmas (due to its highly atheist mentality), people transported their favorite traditions to New Year’s. That way, the Christmas tree became the New Year Tree. They also kept the children’s traditions. Thus, “Ded Moroz” – Granfather Frost was born. Despite the fact that Ded Moroz actually originates from Slavic mythology, today he is basically an analogy of the western Santa Claus – a cheerful elderly man that brings presents to children, with several small differences – he brings presents on the New Year’s Day, not on Christmas; he does not have a sleigh, deers, or elves; and he is usually accompanied by his granddaughter, “Snegurochka” – The Snow Maiden.

There are, of course, other traditions. Throughout the day, people rush to get the tables ready – there are different dishes that are considered a must-have on the table. These include champagne, mandarines, the Olivier salad, also known as the Russian salad, and dressed herring. For the whole day, there are different music or humoristic shows on most of the channels; all of them are festive and merry. Five minutes before midnight, people gather around the tables and on most of the TV-channels, presidential speech is transmitted, in which the president summarizes the yearly events and wishes everyone the best in the upcoming year. After his speech, the striking clock – or the Kremlin clock – strikes twelve times, the twelfth time signifying that it is midnight; you are supposed to make a wish before the clock finishes striking.

Those who do not wish to stay at home go to the Red Square – and there they can eat, dance and have fun. After midnight, the New Year’s Eve is over; the New Year’s Day comes. People eat, drink, get out on the streets, let off fireworks and party.

Marrakech International Film Festival

— by Hamza

Are you the type of person who loves to go to film festivals? Well if you are, and happen to be in Marrakech early December, you are in luck! Marrakech is once again holding its annual international film festival for the 14th time on December 5th-13th. It is one of the largest events along with the Mawazine Festival held in Rabat that bring an international sensation into Morocco. The film festival is held at the Palais des Congrès of Marrakech which is in the heart of the city, and the movies are also displayed in Cinema Colisee and the public square in Jamaa El Fna. If you are wondering what languages the movies are displayed in, well many are in French, English, and Arabic. Some have subtitles and some don’t. You can get a public pass for the festival and a brochure, which would help with the language barrier at the Théâtre Royale.

The Marrakech Festival this year pays tribute to Japanese cinema and many people, such as Yasujiro Ozu, Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Mikio Naruse, and Akira Kurosawa that will be on the spotlight. The film festival this year is honoring the very famous Jeremy Irons, Viggo Mortensen, Egyptian actor Adel Imam, and Moroccan producers Zakaria Alaoui and Khadija Alami. If you are interested in more information about the daily program, and about what movies they’re featuring, you should check out the official website. If you didn’t find the official website very helpful for the detailed program, you should check this out.

Address: Palais des congrès, Avenue Mohammed VI, Marrakech, Morocco

Address: Cinema Colisee, Boulevard Mohamed Zerktouni, Marrakech, Morocco

Address: Théâtre Royale, N8, Marrakech, Morocco

TEDxMarrakesh, 2014

–by Tamara

Have you ever heard of TED Conferences? Dozens of famous, intellectual people meet in Vancouver, British Columbia, to discuss the latest technologies, innovations and the biggest issues on the worldwide scale. In addition, the organization sponsors local events, such as TEDxMarrakesh.
The event will be held live at El Fenn, (Derb Moulay Abdullah Ben Hezzian, 2, Marrakesh), on Saturday, February 25th, 2015. African oldest square, in a Medina filled with with hammams for the body, will welcome this “ultimate brain spa”. It will tackle tantalizing topics of “Are positive thoughts always powerful?” “Do those in power control with fear and negativity?” “Is an overly cautious approach to life ever a force for good?” Whether you are a TED Talk regular, or just willing to try this out, it should be an amazing experience which will allow you to enrich your knowledge and widen your world perspective.
Here you can get details on how to register for the event and buy the tickets for 850MAD (80€). It will also be filmed and aired.

Check out the amazing speakers, such as Hasna El Filali, Hind Balalit, Najlae El Hassani, experts in arts, tourism and business.

Official website
Andrea Kolb • Host
+49 1749208641

Abdelhamid Bousaadi • Project Coordinator
+212 (0)6 70 60 26 62

Buying tickets: online at
At Cafe Clock
224 Derb Chtouka, Marrakesh, Morocco.
+212 (0) 524-378-367 

Morocco and the USA

–by Hamza

I find it amusing how many people in the world automatically think of nomads in djellabas crossing the hot desert on camels when they hear the word “Morocco”. Even funnier are those who ask if it’s a country in Europe. Even those who know Morocco is in Africa do not always realize we are not only African but also Arab-Berber. Actually this Arab-Berber and African nation has many similarities with the US and other western countries; and obviously there are many differences.

1. Geography/Climate

The United States is the 4th largest country in the world, and Morocco is just slightly larger than the state of California. Although we are a much smaller country, we offer climate as diverse as those found in America. The two countries both have deserts (US: Arizona/Nevada, Morocco: Sahara); they both have snowy regions (US: Maine/Minnesota, Morocco: Ifrane); they both have hot humid areas (US: Florida, Morocco: Agadir); they even share an ocean, the Atlantic ocean! Although Morocco seems exotic to many people, it really is not that much different from the US.

2. Food-life

One of the major differences between the two countries is food! Most average Moroccans have four meals per day. They usually have mint tea with bread and traditional olive oil for breakfast, a big tajine with vegetables and some sort of meat for lunch, a snack that consists of mint tea, coffee, and some bread, and for dinner some more meat. But beyond tradition, Morocco, especially touristic cities like Marrakech, offers fast food places, different types of restaurants, such as Italian or Vietnamese, though you can’t find them in every corner like in the United States.

If you’re a coffee person, then Morocco has much to offer, as the quality is superb and the prices are reasonable. Many Americans usually just have coffee and toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and finally a big meal for dinner. Another difference is that US cuisine is more diverse, offering, for instance, Mexican restaurants and more Irish pubs. Another big difference between the two countries would be the time when people eat. Americans usually have lunch at around 12 pm and dinner at around 6 pm, and Moroccans have lunch at around 1-2 pm, and dinner at around 9-10pm.

3. Clothing

While Americans do wear a lot of jeans, they don’t really have traditional clothing, such as the kimono or kilt, they wear casual/business clothes or “European clothes”. Many Moroccans also wear Western and casual clothing; however many average Moroccans wear the customary djellaba. If you walk down the street, you can see a lot of people wearing the djellaba and the hijab. Moroccans usually dress as what they view conservatively; however, Americans here are much more free to dress as they please. While some Moroccans are traditional, many shop from very well known international brand stores, such as Zara, H&M, Adidas, Lacoste etc; and for the upper class, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Prada etc.